1. How good Stuart Immonen is at drawing.
Stuart Immonen is a really great artist (inked here, as he usually is, by Wade Von Grawbadger). One of the things that makes him great is how everything he draws reflects serious thought about the things he’s drawing. Like, sometimes you forget how impressive it is that Spider-Man can actually climb up walls. But by framing this shot over Spidey to show the ground below and emphasizing the point where his foot hits the side of the building (and the position of the foot!), all of that comes through.
And to really bring that home, he shows us this panel. A tiny Spidey against the massive building, and that shadow is the perfect finishing touch.
He also draws a very convincing New York City. (Manhattan plays such an essential role in the Marvel Universe, it’s almost another character in the comics.) In just a few lines, he shows us air conditioners, fire escapes, satellite dishes, even the top of a church all the way back there.
Dude also draws people the way real people stand and point and look at things and sit with their legs crossed on the floor when they type. Also, that close up of Peter with the pinky thing he’s doing is just crazy authentic.
2. Ivan Reis being born to draw Plastic Man.
Over his long and accomplished career as a comic book artist, Ivan Reis hasn’t ever really gone beyond the style he’s perfected. It’s a kind of smooth, enhanced, classicism filled with energy and detail. That is, until he got put on a comic featuring Plastic Man. His Plastic Man features some of his most (forgive me) elastic cartooning and shows that, actually, he can draw anything however he wants to.
Writing about this kind of cartooning is kind of like writing about jokes. You can’t really explain it without ruining it. So just take a look at Plas saving The Terrifics by eating them…
Or how he just drew pupils behind Plas’s goggles…
Or him landing as a hot air balloon…
Or everything going on here . . . .
3. “Deadly Class,” still.
“Deadly Class” is a great comic because it’s filled with great characters, thrilling plot elements, and pitch perfect nostalgia. It also displays Wes Craig’s ability to chart new territories in page and panel construction. For example, check out how he manages to illustrate Marcus’ downward spiral by the way he constructs the page itself.
It’s easy for Rick Remender to write a perfect and bad ass line, but it takes a Wes Craig to turn it into a classic.
And let’s not forget colorist Jordan Boyd (or letterer Rus Wooton for that matter), to fill out the canvas over an incredible action sequence like this one. (Also, Remender is writing a particularly inspired bit of narration in this sequence.)Continued below
Craig has a phenomenally detailed imagination. Look not only at all the dead and/or dying Punk Ninjas, but also all their little exclamations and the CLICK of the turned off boom box.
Dude also lands a heck of a panel-to-panel transition.
4. Sean Gordon Murphy’s Gotham City.
One of my favorite things in comics is Gotham City, specifically, how great artists interpret it. Maybe it’s the residual Tim Burton’s Batman still rattling around my head from like, jeez, nearly 30 years ago? But when a great artist puts their stamp on it, there’s rarely anything better. (To this day my favorite thing about “Hush” is Jim Lee’s sprawling vision of Gotham City.)
Murphy puts all of his favorite things in his Gotham. Weird bridges connecting buildings, winding streets designed explicitly for chases, all lit from below, as if the entire ground was on fire.
Much like his linework, the city is a marvel of verticality, allowing that low light to cast incredible shadows across its buildings.
And those video game highways are perfect for when you want to really sell your GCPD Voltron moment.
It’s also weirdly overgrown and desolate in some pockets.
And if, say, you want to freeze the entire thing, you’re going to get some impressive drifts of ice.
And when you pull back, for as exaggerated and ominous as it seems from the ground, it still reads like a city that could exist somewhere. (Bonus points for the little WUK WUK of that helicopter.)
5. The cover to “X-Factor” Annual #3.
It’s 1988 and I’ve only been collecting comics for a few years, tops. I had started with “G.I. Joe” comics in Toys ‘R’ Us, and then a friend loaned me The Dark Phoenix Saga and I was off to the races. This comic, though, was a watershed moment for me. There was just so much going on on this cover. At the time, I would get an “Order Form” from my local store, Collector’s Comics in Wantagh, NY (RIP). So I knew that The Evolutionary War was a big crossover connecting a whole bunch of annuals that year. This was the first, and there was so much that amazed me about it. First off is that phenomenal “SUPER-SIZED ANNUAL” banner. They don’t make them like that anymore. Next, 64 pages? You can’t tell from this picture, but this annual was square-bound. It felt like a big deal. The way that the logo sat in that “THE EVOLUTIONARY WAR” box was also rad, especially when you had it next to the other installments in the crossover, each with its own color scheme. In retrospect, it was with this cover that the logo and graphic design obsessed comic book reader I am today was born.
And we haven’t even gotten to the incredible moment Simonson delivers here. So much energy, such crazy design, and X-Force there in the background sporting what are still in Top 5 team costume designs. And it’s all topped off with a perfect Direct Market barcode box drawing of Cyclops.
It had it all.